Today, while mindlessly flipping through the channels, I stumbled across A Family is a Family is a Family, a documentary short that Rosie O’Donnell executive produced and stars in. When I first heard about this project, I was quick to dismiss it as another one of the former Queen of Nice’s ultra-liberal, shove-it-down-your-throat agendas.
Boy, was I wrong.
This is one of the most pure and honest portrayals of what it is to be a family. The documentary tells little stories about a variety of families and has children under the age of ten describing their families or what it is to be a family in a manner reminiscent of Kids Say the Darndest Things. The producers did a fantastic job capturing all different types of families: society’s “traditional” mom/dad/kids, mixed race, single-parent, adopted children, same-sex couples, surrogates, you name it.
And it got me thinking. I have, what one would consider a complicated family structure. Please see Exhibit A.
Yes, that is the make-up of my immediate family. For clarity’s sake, let me do a little explaining. My mother was married to my biological father—who I have had roughly no contact with since I was fourteen years old, despite being at the same family events at least once a year—before she met the man I consider my dad when I was about five or six. The SD decided it would be easier to have no contact with me as it put a strain on his third marriage, but that’s a topic for another post. My dad was the one that was there for all the important milestones: graduations, proms, getting my driver’s license, moving me into my dorm room/first apartment. He has two sons: one (Son #1, not one of my brothers—we do not get along) from his former marriage and another(Brother #2—we were raised together after his mother passed away and he came to live with us) from a relationship he once had. He and my mother dated off-and-on for years and though they haven’t been together since I was in high school, they are still the best of friends and we celebrate all the major holidays together as a family.
When I was a kid, I never understood why my mother was the stepmom of my oldest siblings and why their mother, Chrissy, was not. Eventually, my mom told Chrissy to just go with it when I referred to her as my stepmother. Decades later, I still consider Chrissy my stepmother and whenever she can steal herself away from the beautiful island of Maui and come to the mainland, it is wonderful to see her.
I have been referred to more than once as the “glue” that keeps the family together. I’m the no-drama one. And the funny one, or so I’m told. Much to my dismay, my siblings and I are not that close, but when we do manage to get together, I enjoy each and every minute with them. I love them and have tried to make things different, but when there are 8-, 9-, or 12-years difference between siblings, it’s hard to connect when you’re not really in the same place in life. Brother #2, Zack is the perpetual “cool guy” who gets all the ladies and who people fawn all over when he walks into a room. We may be less than a year apart, but, because I simply don’t care what other people think of me, I do not have enough cool stock to be worthy of his affection minus the few times a year when we actually see each other.
Confused yet? That’s the thing about families, you never know where anyone belongs unless you are right in the thick of things.
I guess the point that I’m trying to make about families is the same as the documentary: they all come in different forms, but family is the joining of people who love and cherish one another regardless of marriage, gender, biology, or race.
At the end of the day the Beatles had it right all along: love is all there is.